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Lecture 8

GOV 312L Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Total War, The International (Golf), Roosevelt Corollary

7 pages97 viewsFall 2018

Course Code
GOV 312L

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Module 8: historical overview of US foreign policy
Emergence of the US in the last quarter of the 18th century was shaped significantly by a series
of world wars that started in Europe:
The Seven Years Wars (French and Indian war)1756-1763 → complicated + involved
many of the large states there
Two big lines of conflicts:
1. The british fought a war with the French and Spain over access to commerces
and colonies
2. Prussia (prominent German state) fought most of the continent, particularly
Austria over who would rule German speaking peoples in central Europe
For our importance, the most important consequence of this war was a dramatic British
victory over the French and the Spanish in North America. The British secured significant
new territorial possessions in North America, including French Canada → the long war
and the territorial gains created 2 new big political challenges for the British government:
they did what most big powers do when fighting long wars→ they deferred the real
economic cost of war by borrowing money to fund their current military expenditures →
total cost of war was about 137 million pounds → the annual interest payments on just
that war was about 5 million pounds. There interest payment were equivalent to about
60% of the ordinary peace time budget of the British government → to show how big
these expenditures were: the US gov spends about $3.55 trillion in 2016, collected $3
trillion in revenues, leaving it with a budget of about $550 billion. If the US spend 60% of
that $3.55 trillion total for interest on the last war, that would imply interest payment of
about $2.15 trillion annually. Our current interest rate is about 2.4%. That would be like
the US borrowed about $89.6 trillion to pay for its last war → this is to show how
extremely expensive the British war was
Other problem for the British on top of huge money borrow: they now had more territory
and longer frontiers to defend → they decided to increase permanently the number of
troops in North America to about 10 000, which was double the number of troops that
had been there before the war → therefore, they turned to the rapidly growing colonists
in North America for revenues. The colonists population doubled (1 to 2 million) form
1750-1770. By 1770, the colonies had of the british and irish population combined →
exports and imports doubled in the 20 years for British → the colonies were also heavily
in debt to English and Scottish banks. This economic environment and this
independance motivated a series of reforms: many to raise revenues on the colonies
after 1763.
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Higher taxes and new constraints on local government prompted a much larger backlash
against imperial rule in the colonies than expected
Colonists faced a dilemma in this bid for independence → Great Britain (GB) was
arguably the strongest military power in the world at the time, strongest navy which
granted it the capacity to choke off the American economy and move troops from Europe
to North America. In 1778, GB had 50 000 troops stationed in North America. It added
30 000 German mercenaries during the course of the war. The 1st continental army had
slightly over 5000 troops and was augmented by state militias. In short, the colonist
needed external help to achieve military victory.
The US turned to France (the traditional rival of GB). The colonists needed capital to pay
for this war, war equipment to fight the war and French advisors that could both train
American soldiers and fight alongside them. The french eventually provided all of these
components of military support → THESE FOREIGN POLICY NEEDS HELPED
Declaration of independence as an IRREVOCABLE SIGNAL → if effectively burned the
bridge back to any compromise arrangement with the British that would have both
avoided war and kept the colonies inside the British empire.
The French needed to be convinced by the American colonists that they were committed
to separation from GB. The declaration of independence helped make that commitment
credible (1976)
Alliance with France in 1778 → it committed the French to fight until the colonies had
achieved independence
France then invited spain in alliance vs GB by promising them support to take Gibraltar
Russia constructed an armed neutrality pact with a series of other European nations that
helped to offset the British naval advantage: pact designed to protect neutral shipping in
So, the colonists’ bid for independence had provoked a global coalition against the
British → global coalition and the physical challenges associated with conquering a vast
territory played a significant role in accounting 1st, for American military victory and then,
for the favorable territorial settlement granted by the British to the US
Washington avoided global confrontations → instead the colonists fought guerilla
campaigns that interrupted the British armies’ supply line → The British opted for peace
to avoid the continuing costs of the war and to ensure that a European coalition wouldn’t
threaten the British isles → the British gave the colonists a more favorable settlement
than either the French or Spanish were willing to grant → The british recognised
independence and American territory to the west of the Mississippi and north to Canada
● conclusion/summary: european politics and war, particularly the long Anglo-French
rivalry there, played a central role in the emergence of the US as an independent
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